Made With Love
by Gavriel Bartholomew
The cold metal once again delved deep into my body, scraping away shavings of my life. The strokes were slow and methodical, each one sapping me of any strength I ever had. I was slowly dying.
Minutes; hours; days went by, I was numb to the never-ending pain and relentless torture. So thirsty, so dry; I needed water so badly. What was left of my body was aching and broken. Darkness was descending on me and I couldn't escape, I was leaving forever and ever. Everything stopped.
I trudge down the steps, my body and brain still not quite awake. Sunlight leeches in through the gaps between the light beige-coloured curtains in my small kitchen. I hurriedly fix myself a bowl of cereal and begin a quick search for a spoon to eat it with. After inhaling my breakfast, I quite literally fly down the flight of stairs to my studio.
My studio is admittedly a terrible mess. Various varnish containers cover tabletops along with a range of sticky brushes with most bristles missing. A series of chisels and delicate utensils are arrayed on another larger bench. I brush my hands over my latest piece of work. It is almost ready to be put together. I have made many of these before, but this one is particularly special, because it is for a very talented player and a good friend.
I palm a small piece of fine sanding paper and begin to smooth over the edges of the wood. After preparing a darker varnish and selecting a reasonably intact brush, I start to paint the body of the instrument. One stroke up, another going down; up and down, just like clockwork.
It's now lunchtime and I'm letting the varnish dry. I'm far from over, but this instrument is starting to come alive.
I can feel something soft and warm on top of me. It is gentle, like a soft breeze through the forest. What is it? There is a sound also; sweet, smooth, comforting. I am feeling better now but I need water, I am so thirsty.
The soft thing is gone, as well as the sound. I can hear clattering and muttering. I am scared. But the sweet sound comes back, I think it is music. I feel something cold brush up against me, it reminds me of water, it is wet. I soak it up like fresh morning dew on a parched leaf. The music goes away again. The water is drying up, but I am not thirsty anymore. I feel great.
I head back downstairs again to check on the varnish. It has dried perfectly and it looks fabulous. I set myself into the worn and faded chair to start. First, I fix the fingerboard to the neck and put it to the side. The pegs are quite hard because you don't want them too loose or too tight. I do these next.
I attach the nut to the top of the fingerboard and then fix the chinrest and tail piece onto the end of the body. The end button keeps the tail piece in line with the neck. I now attach the neck to the upper bout and add the bridge between the f holes.
Now I stop because there isn't anything else to do except for putting on the strings which are at the post office. Next stop: the post office.
The soft, sweet sound comes back again. I am happy. It is making me into something. It hurt at first, but I feel better now.
I take the strings out of the envelope and wind them around the pegs. As I work I hum a tune and go over a checklist in mind. I remember the very beginning, carving out the body of the instrument from the wood. Sanding it and smoothing the edges, drying and varnishing it. Finally putting it together.
I select a bow from the line hanging on the wall and pick up the instrument to tune it. When it is tuned to perfection, I rest it on my leg and polish it until I can see myself in it. I check my watch and jump out of my skin; I realise that I'm late. I place the instrument in its case along with my most prized bow and head off to the auditorium.
Walls surround me, enclosing me within them. I am imprisoned inside this, with soft material all around me. I must escape!
I arrive at the auditorium very late, I can see cars lined up outside and the door is unlocked. I rush over to the main table for the presentation. I am apologising profusely.
There is a soft ripple of murmuring around the table. I unzip the case and open it wide.
There are lots of sounds around me, the fabric is pulled away from me and I am taken out.
I gently take out the instrument and the bow out and pass it to the young girl at the end of the table. She smiles and thanks me as the table bursts into applause. The girl stands and then there is a silence of anticipation. I dearly hope that she will play a song for us.
"This is the most beautiful violin I have ever seen," she says while lifting the bow and placing her fingers on the strings. Then she plays; slowly, sweetly and with such ease. She is simply astounding.
I am a violin – a violin! The sound said so! It said I was beautiful too! I am beautiful!
The sound is extraordinary, the most amazing sound I've ever heard. The violin is perfect; beautiful; wonderful. I am so happy.
I am making sound, good sound – music, the best sound is music. I am a violin and I love it!